The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority will decide next month whether to modify its plans to build public housing in the Circle Woods town-house development in the face of heavy opposition from residents.
The housing authority commissioners laaast week promised to consider residents' arguments against locating the public housing in their community and to make a final determination Feb. 10. Most residents said after the meeting, however, that they doubted the authority would change its mind.
The residents of Circle Woods, a complex planned for 274 unites between Fairfax City and Vienna, just off Rte. 129 near I-66, are upset because they learned in September 1981 that the public housing was slated for their development. They said they were unaware of the project when they bought their town houses, which the developer said sold for $70,000 to $95,000.
The housing authority, which oversees 569 unites of public housing in 12 locations around the county, said the developer agreed to provide public housing in the complex in 1976 during a rezoning hearing.
Only families earning $10,840 to $21,900 (depending on family size) would qualify, a requirement that would exclude most families considered truly poor by county officials, who peg the county poverty level at $9,290 for a family of four. There are 3,000 people on the authority's waiting list for subsidized housing, commission spokeswoman Deirdre Coyne said.
Some commissioners told reesidents during the meeting that the fault lay with the developer, not the housing authority, and that the commissioners resented being asked to shoulder part of the blame. Other commissioners told the residents they should have come to the commission earlier.
Planners hope to begin construction on the 21 public housing units in the spring and move families into the three-bedroom town houses within the year.
Commissioner Alvin W. Smuzynski said he was sympathetic to the plight of the homeowners. He said prospective buyers have the right to know if public housing is planned for the complex, and he called efforts by Republican Supervisor Thomas M. Davis, of Mason District, to require such prior disclosure "a step in the right direction."
The Circle Woods residents crowded into a small housing authority hearing room last week to reiterate many of the same arguments made at a stormy meeting last month with their supervisor, Democrat James M. Scott, an outspoken proponent of public housing.
Beverly Magida, a Circle Woods homeowner who has emerged as a leader of the disgruntled residents, argued that the disputed site should be used for subsidized housing to be sold, not rented, to middle-income families instead of low-income families.
Magida said the county originally planned to do this and then changed its mind in 1981 without a public hearing. The housing authority said this was an option it considered and then decided against.
Another homeowner, Richard B. Norment, tetified that the homeowners association will not approve a housing authority request to open the Circle Woods swimming pool to the public housing tenants. The homeowners are scheduled to vote on the request at their association meeting next week, said Norment, who has worked for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Affairs and Office off Equal Opportunity and has directed a program under the Fair Housing Project.
Other Circle Woods residents suggested the public housing units be scattered throughout the complex, arguing that clustering the assisted tenants in one spot would make them feel stigmatized and isolated.
Chairman Gerald W. Hopkins said the commission "would be delighted" to scatter the units, but that developers normally oppose such plans because of costs and planning difficulties. Commissioner Diana Hasuly told the homeowners that "your attitude" has "already stigmatized and isolated" the tenants.
A few persons spoke in favor of the pubic housing, although none were from the Circle Woods development. Bob Gibson of Catholics for Housing told the authority that "not to go forward with this drop-in-the-bucket project" would be grossly unfair to those who need public housing.